While Hitchcock’s Psycho and Romero’s Night of the Living Dead used old school black and white, Herschell Gordon Lewis made the 60s vibrant red with his gruesome gore films. Two Thousand Maniacs! Was the centerpiece of his “Blood Trilogy,” and is definitely my favorite of the three, spawning a remake and a sequel from director Tim Sullivan in the past decade. And Lewis himself made a sequel to Blood Feast in 2002! But let’s get back to the 60s first, when uber gore was shocking and repulsive.
BLOOD FEAST (1963)
Blood Feast doesn’t hesitate in shocking and repulsing. A chick is listening to a news report about not going out alone because there’s a killer on the loose. So she does the smart thing; she stays in and takes a bath. But the fricking killer is in her house! Oh the cruel irony. There’s an awesome jump scare and creepy old school organ horror music that helps give the entire movie its freaky tone. Well, that, and the uber red blood and gore when he hacks up his victims.
What’s most effective about Blood Feast is the killer. Screw hockey masks and inside-out William Shatner masks. This dude wears a suit, has artificially gray hair and evil bushy eyebrows, and gets all up in the camera’s face with buggy, psychotic eyes.
And, he’s the local butcher! The plot is simple. He’s using women’s body parts (and guts, I’d say) to bring back to life some ancient Egyptian goddess (who’s in statue form).
The subplot about the police and detectives trying to solve the case is pretty uninteresting since the audience knows who the killer is. You watch Blood Feast for the disgusting moments—tongue removal, gut fondling, whippings, etc.—and that damn freaky as hell killer!
I absolutely love the end of the movie, because the man who saves the day is a garbage truck driver…who looks really hot in a wife beater.
COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965)
Color Me Blood Red ends the Blood Trilogy with a drip instead of a gusher. The most infamous scene I’d say involves the killer milking a chick’s intestine like it’s a cow’s udder. There’s also a rather funny scene in which he drives by in a boat and spears a couple that is riding some sort of pedal boats.
The killer this time is a failing artist who decides he needs to add some color splash to his paintings after he gets trashed by a critic at an art gallery. Blood red is definitely a good palette choice! The gruesome segments of him using his new medium are pretty much ruined by obnoxious jazzy 60s music.
And then the movie sort of turns into an Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon beach party horror movie, complete with surfer music! The focus becomes a bunch of kids hanging on the beach and showing off plenty of flesh for the era. And like any movie in which a bunch of partying kids faces off against a crazed killer, the movie even ends with a really bad one-liner by the “final girl.”
It’s almost like by the time Color Me Blood Red was made, Lewis had decided to change his style of gore film from sick and twisted to a twist of humor. But anyone disappointed by this film would have plenty gore…I mean, more…to look forward to from Lewis, including Gruesome Twosome, The Wizard of Gore, and The Gore Gore Girls. And of course, Blood Feast 2….
BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL U CAN EAT (2002)
Resurrecting his classic, Lewis brings us modern day uber gore in a similar story to the original Blood Feast. The grandson of the killer from the first movie comes to reopen the butcher shop as a catering service. He proceeds to do the same thing as his grandfather—mutilate women to sacrifice to the statue of the Egyptian god. And once again, police investigate it. But who really cares? It’s not about the plot.
Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat is loaded with cheesy dialogue, campy humor, over acting, female nudity, lesbianism, and obnoxious, constant twanging guitar country rock that seems to be influenced by Tarantino films. Oh. And it also has the dude who played Dan Conner’s dumb poker buddy Bob on Roseanne. Unfortunately, the killer grandson provides none of the visual freakiness his killer grandpa did in the original movie.
Just watch this one for the excessive gore. And it’s pretty heinous. Even the lead young cop investigating the murders pukes every time he sees a mutilated body. So make sure to watch the unrated edition. Unfortunately, according to the seller from which I got my copy of the DVD, there appears to be a manufacturer’s defect on the disc; it skips over a chapter of the movie—the chapter with the big nude girl party! Convenient for me, but straight guys will be pissed.
The whole shebang ends at a wedding, and it’s all very anti-climactic. But Lewis does manage to capture the feeling of his earlier works. That’s what makes this sequel work—it feels genuine because it’s from the same filmmaker. But, like all Herschell Gordon Lewis’s works, it’s merely a blood feast for gorehounds, not a “scary” movie.